Scandi kitchen ideas – how to work the cool and calm Nordic aesthetic

From muted colour schemes and clever storage solutions to minimalist design, here's how the Scandinavians do it...
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  • Nordic interiors are synonymous with the chicest styles. While their good looks and minimalism work throughout the home, Scandi kitchen ideas will be some of the most beneficial to keeping things cool, calm and collected.

    Scandinavian style kitchen ideas are the perfect combination of comforting and stylish. This type of design is characterised by sleek lines, simplicity and minimalism. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that minimal means cold. Thanks to clever lighting and the use of wood and other natural material, Scandinavian-style rooms are often a masterclass in how to design a kitchen, simple, but filled with warmth, this has helped fuel their popularity.

    Scandi style is all about making a home feel calm, cosy and inviting. Most Scandi schemes start with fresh white walls and simple wooden flooring to create a clean backdrop for colourful displays of homeware.

    Scandi kitchen ideas

    Explore the soothing colour palettes, clean lines and natural touches which make Scandi kitchen ideas so universally appealing.

    1. Bring the outside in

    Kitchen with skylight, bifold doors, green cabinets and wooden dining table

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Scandi kitchen ideas – and, for that matter, Scandi style in general, celebrates the beauty of nature. Make this work in your space by bringing as much of the outdoors into your home. Plant in your garden strategically, so you’re looking out at abundant greenery and textures.

    Inside, reflect this with pale green touches on cabinetry and, of course, fresh flowers and foliage. This look particularly complements kitchen extension ideas that often have large windows overlooking the garden.

    2. Embrace neutrals

    Galley kitchen with pale wood cabinetry and black accents

    Image credit: Gunter & Co/Mary Wadsworth

    At the core of Scandi kitchen ideas is the theme of neutral spaces. Stick to a restrained palette for a sophisticated and Nordic-inspired theme, this is not the time for bold kitchen wallpaper ideas.

    Tonal shades will add interest to the look without adding jarring colourways to take it away from the Scandi style.

    3. Make it sociable

    Neutral kitchen with range cooker, island seating, pendant lights and wooden floors

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter

    Nordic homes are inherently inviting and sociable spaces. In your kitchen, you want to create a room where everyone feels welcome and one way to achieve this is through seating.

    Include bar stools as part of your kitchen island ideas so guests can gather around while you cook. A dining table gives even more seating, making sure the space is inclusive to everyone.

    4. Let the light in

    White kitchen with skylights, yellow banquette and green cabinetry details

    Image credit: Future PLC/James French

    Scandi summers are full of light, while the winters have very little sunshine, so their homes are designed to let in as much light as possible year-round. Take this on in your kitchen by opting for a glass-topped side return, or row of skylights. The back of the kitchen could have sliding or bifold glass doors.

    Mirrored and glass surfaces are a welcome addition, to help bounce around even the lowest of light sources.

    5. Combine woods and black shades

    Kitchen with wooden slatted island, island seating, pendant lighting and black cabinetry

    Image credit: Future PLC/James French

    For the most contemporary take on Scandi kitchen ideas, go for a combination of strong, linear blacks and natural woods. Although technically opposites in terms of style, the two marry together beautifully and perfectly combine the modern vibes of Nordic living with the back to nature vibes of the area’s history.

    6. Use natural materials

    White kitchen with rattan bar stools and glass pendant lights

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Add texture and interest to your kitchen by using a variety of natural materials and finishes. Rattan, weaves and glass all embrace simplicity while adding depth to potentially otherwise flat and glossy space.

    7. Make a feature of canisters and glass jars

    A white wall and a white shelving unit holding jars, crockery and baskets next to three framed photographs

    Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb

    Simple Scandi kitchen ideas include making a feature of the everyday essentials, as shown above. Add interest to open kitchen shelving by decanting dried goods, such as flour, pasta and rice, into clip-top glass jars and lining them up on a shelf for a smart kitchen storage idea.

    Storing fruit and veg in natural hessian baskets is an affordable way to add relaxed country style to your kitchen. Try adding colour by growing herbs in zinc pots, too.

    8. Stick to a white colour palette

    A white Scandi kitchen with wooden worktops and open shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    You can’t go wrong with a white kitchen idea when creating your own Scandi-style kitchen. ‘For Scandinavian kitchen interiors, a cool light colour palette is advised to create a sense of purity and calmness,’ says Darren Watts, Wren Kitchens Showroom and Design Director

    This makes it perfect for making the most out of small kitchen ideas. Add warmth to the space by pair the white with wooden and copper accents. In a small kitchen, space is at a premium so make the most of every inch with open shelves for everyday items above the sink, as seen in this kitchen.

    9. Cast a warm glow with pendant lighting

    A Scandi kitchen with a wooden island and white herringbone wall tiles

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Light is incredibly important in Nordic design due to the long dark winter days. Scandinavians tend to create pools of light with low hanging pendant lights. Be playful with your kitchen lighting ideas with a slick design or splash of colour like these lovely pale turquoise shades. They will be at eye level, after all. Muted blues and greens are oh-so Scandi.

    10. Add warmth with oak

    A kitchen with wooden shelving and grey cupboards

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    A Scandi scheme can instantly be warmed with the addition of natural surfaces. Oak worktops, freestanding furniture or an open shelving unit will add character and lend a laid-back country vibe.

    Of course, open shelving is ideal for storing glassware, kitchen tools and cookbooks – a great way to add colour and a vintage look to your neutral Scandi kitchen ideas, too. Use houseplants to add colour and welcome the outdoors in.

    11. Make space for a dinner table

    A large white kitchen with exposed white brick, roof lights and a large island

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Gathering together for meals as a family is incredibly important in Scandinavian culture. Make space for a dining table or breakfast bar to ensure the kitchen is the heart of the home.

    A dining area is also a great space to add warmth through texture and colour. Opt for a wooden table, soft furnishings and fresh flowers to add depth to an open-plan kitchen idea.

    12. Display items you use everyday

    A white scandi kitchen with a clock and open wooden shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    Nordic countries are famous for their minimalistic and streamlined style. However, this couldn’t be achieved without a few clever storage solutions. Keep worktops clear with shelves and hanging racks.

    Shelves are a great way to store items that you use every day like crockery, or tea and coffee caddies. Hang mugs and chopping boards from a rail for easy access when you need them.

    Hanging cooking utensils on a rack beside the hob is an easy way to give your kitchen a more homely feel and it’ll free up space inside kitchen cupboards, too. The same goes for a ceiling rack for hanging up pots and pans.

    13. Add authenticity with wood

    A white and wooden kitchen with blue and white splashback tiles

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Wood finishes are a key part of creating an authentic Scandinavian kitchen. However, wood isn’t just for floors and worktops. Opt for wood or wood effect cabinet doors to showcase the natural material.

    ‘Look to light coloured wood like beech or ash for flooring, dining tables or worktops if budget allows,’ suggests Hayley Simmons, Head of Merchandising for Magnet.. ‘Avoid stained or varnished woods for countertops as the raw, natural, untreated look is much more in-keeping with Scandinavian style.’

    14. Hide clutter in floor to ceiling cabinets

    A white floor to ceiling cupboard storing crockery and a microwave

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Floor-to-ceiling cabinets are a genius way of hiding clutter that can gather on kitchen counters. Invest in a cabinet with space to hide a microwave, kettle, coffee machine and other gadgets that clutter up worktops. Some cabinets have hidden worktops in that you can set up as a breakfast station.

    You simply open them up when morning rolls around and close them behind you as you dash out on the school run.

    15. Try two tone cabinets for a designer look

    A dark green and wood kitchen with a bookshelf above a yellow sofa

    Image credit: Future PLC

    While most Scandinavian design relies on a muted colour palette, don’t be afraid to add personality with a splash of colour. ‘If colour is a must in your home, look to pale greys, pinks or blues but use these sparingly for maximum impact,’ advises Hayley.

    Stick to a simple colour palette that highlights the design in this kitchen. The two-tone cabinets emphasise the clean lines rather than detract from it.

    16. Add warmth with metallic accents

    A close up shot of a wooden worktop and copper pans hanging on the wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Metallic accents – especially copper – will add warmth to a minimal white kitchen colour scheme. When working with a limited colour scheme play with textures, shapes and finishes. You’ll earn extra style points if you invest in some copper pans, both practical and pretty.

    This subtle hexagonal kitchen tile idea, copper rail and marble accessories come together to create a fuss-free kitchen that is full of depth and warmth.

    17. Accessorise with houseplants

    A pale grey and white open plan kitchen with an island and three pendant lights

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    House plants ideas are a great way to soften the functionality of the space. ‘Don’t be afraid to accessorise with textured placemats, wall hangings or rugs in the kitchen,’ says Hayley.

    ‘Complete the look with some fresh flowers, houseplants or potted herbs for another nod to nature that’s typical of Scandinavian style.’

    18. Pair statement flooring with white walls

    A white Scandi kitchen with tiled flooring, a yellow table and bifold doors

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles

    Sticking to a neutral colour scheme doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with the design. Opt for playful geometric kitchen flooring ideas like in this kitchen. The bold zigzag pattern is made up of sleek clean lines featuring the Scandi style dream team – white and wood. However, it is also bursting with personality.

    Nordic design might be neutral and minimal, but it is important that you find away to stamp your personality on the space.

    19. Work in subtle pastels as a accent colour

    A white marble kitchen diner with pastel accessories and alcove shelves

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter

    If you want to add colour to your all-white scheme choose diluted colours that feel soft alongside the neutral base of white. Pastels are the perfect pairing, from baby blue and mint green to powder pink, adding a subtle accent colour without overpowering the effortlessly simple ethos of Scandi styling.

    20. Choose wire storage

    A kitchen wire storage rack with colourful tupperware

    Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Mitchell

    Give your kitchen a back-to-school look with this wire small kitchen storage idea. A simple unit is the ideal place to store tumblers, Tupperware and clip-top glass jars. Be selective about what to display so the overall effect is attractive, not cluttered.

    21. Invite a friendly touch with family photos

    A cream kitchen diner with photos displayed on a shelf

    Image credit: Future PLC/Johanna Henderson

    If there’s one thing we’ve learnt from the practice of Hygge, it is to surround ourselves with items that make us feel happy. What could be happier than filling the space with treasured photos of loved ones.

    Welcome framed photos into your social kitchen space to echo the sentiment. Use coordinating frames to prevent the look from feeling cluttered and overpowering. Remember you’re looking to make a statement, but keep it simple.

    22. Create a chalkboard wall

    A chalkboard wall behind a round wooden dining table

    Image credit: Future PLC/Tom Meadows

    Painting a large area of a wall in chalkboard paint to create a noticeboard is a simple Scandi kitchen idea that brings character to a pared-back room. For a more contemporary look, paint a section of wall from floor to ceiling and use a chalkboard pen to create a menu-inspired artwork.

    Write happy affirmations or messages to welcome guests, use the wall as suits to make your home feel happy.

    What is a Scandinavian kitchen?

    ‘Traditional Scandinavian design is characterised by functionality, clean lines and minimalism,’ explains Hayley  Simmons. ‘To design a Scandinavian inspired kitchen is to create a space that is practical, but at no cost to style and aesthetic.’

    Layout is an important part of any Scandi style kitchen. To stick with the Scandinavian design movement, aim for an open-plan kitchen with plenty of space for the family to gather.

    If you only have a small kitchen to work with, you can still replicate this effect by introducing other elements of Scandinavian design, such as a muted colour palette and clever storage solutions to make the space feel bright and organised.

    Scandi-inspired kitchens tend to be very minimal, focusing on a muted colour palette of white, grey pale pink and blues. ‘In the kitchen you should look to work with muted tones and monochromatic schemes for units,’ says Hayley. ‘Matte finishes in particular lend themselves well to this style, as they tend to be more understated than the high-gloss finishes.’

    How do you style a Scandi kitchen?

    ‘When styling the kitchen, less is more,’ says Hayley. ‘Keep countertops decluttered and let textures and textiles do the talking to really embrace the minimalist way of life.’

    Hayley suggests styling a kitchen with simple and natural objects like fresh flowers, textured placemats, wall hangings and houseplants. A mug hanger attached to the wall is another great way to add a touch of personality to the kitchen. Try Denby Pottery if you fancy investing in some beautiful new mugs in muted colours.

    Just be careful not to go overboard, the beauty of a Scandinavian design is it’s simplicity. You don’t want to overwhelm the kitchen with clutter.

    The final touch is lighting. ‘Throughout the winter months, the days in the northern hemisphere are extremely short, with only a few hours of daylight,’ explains Darren Watts. ‘Unsurprisingly, the use of light is very important in Nordic design, with many interiors focusing on creating bright, well-lit spaces.’

    Opt for pendant lights over a kitchen island to cast a cosy glow over the entire kitchen. In small kitchens, cleverly placed lights on shelves will also work a treat.

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